No Escape (2 stars)

No Escape

Owen Wilson and Lake Bell lift an inconsistent and unimaginative actioner

When he takes a new job in Asia, Jack Dwyer (Owen Wilson) expects it will be the start of a happy new life for himself, wife Annie (Lake Bell) and their two young daughters. Such optimism is violently dashed when the family find themselves slap bang in the middle of a bloody coup, with westerners the primary target.

This premise brings with it a degree of hope that co-writing brothers Drew and John Erick Dowdle (the latter of whom also directs) have attempted to inject this end-of-summer actioner with brains, as well as brawn. Such hope is short-lived, however, with any political commentary rendered toothless by the fact that the whole thing plays out in an unnamed country – although all signs point to Cambodia – and the civil uprising is explored no further than the threat it brings to an American family. This conventionality extends from the screenplay to the action itself, which utilises a great deal of genre clichés as the Dwyers lurch from one predicament to the next.

The cast do what they can. While he’s better known for comedy, Wilson brings his everyman charm, and Bell takes the action in her stride – although her strength of character is undermined by one lazy scene which reduces her to a sexual victim. Pierce Brosnan has tremendous fun hamming it up as a cockney tough guy who helps the Dwyers, but the wild veering of tone between his scenery-chewing, their desperate predicament and the often brutal violence is disorienting. And, despite the film’s exotic location and political pretensions, there’s no escaping the fact that this is a standard fish-out-of-water tale, albeit one taken to extremes.

General release from Fri 4 Sep.

No Escape

  • 2 stars
  • 2015
  • US
  • 1h 43min
  • 15
  • Directed by: John Erick Dowdle
  • Cast: Owen Wilson, Pierce Brosnan, Lake Bell
  • UK release: 4 September 2015

An American family find themselves in the middle of a coup when living abroad. Foreigners are being executed, so they must find a safe escape before it's too late.